Majjhima Nikaya


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Majjhima Nikāya
III. Upari Paṇṇāsa
5. Saḷāyatana Vagga

Sacred Books of the Buddhists
Volume VI
Dialogues of the Buddha
Part V

Further Dialogues of the Buddha
Volume II

Translated from the Pali
by Lord Chalmers, G.C.B.
Sometime Governor of Ceylon

London
Humphrey Milford
Oxford University Press
1927
Public Domain

Sutta 146

Nandak'ovāda Suttaɱ

Nandaka's Homily to Almswomen

 


[270] [309]

[1][pts][than][upal] THUS have I heard:

Once when the Lord was staying at Sāvatthī in Jeta's grove in Anāthapiṇḍika's pleasaunce,
Mahā Pajāpatī the Gotamid
brought five hundred Almswomen with her to the Lord
with the request that he would exhort and instruct them.

Now at that time senior Almsmen
used to take turns in preaching to Almswomen;
but the reverend Nandaka did not want to take his turn.

When therefore the Lord asked Ānanda
whose turn it was
to preach to Almswomen,
he was told it was Nandaka's
but he did not want to take it.

Then the Lord ordered him to preach
and Nandaka said he would.

[271] So in the morning early,
duly robed and bowl in hand,
the reverend Nandaka went into Sāvatthī for alms
and on his way back after his meal
came, with a companion,
to the pleasaunce which King Pasenadi gave.

Espying him coming some way off,
the Almswomen set a seat for him
and got water for his feet.

Seating himself on the seat set for him,
Nandaka washed his feet,
after which, with proper salutations,
the Almswomen also seated themselves to one side.

Said Nandaka to them: -

I am going to catechize you, Almswomen.

Those that understand will say so,
as also will those who do not understand;
anyone who has doubts or perplexities
will question me as to how this or that is,
and what the meaning is.

We are pleased and delighted,
sir,
with just what your reverence suggests to us.

What think you, ladies? -

Is sight permanent or impermanent?

Impermanent, sir.

Does the impermanent give pleasure or pain?

Pain.

Is it proper that what is impermanent
and fraught [310] with pain and change
should be regarded as mine,
or I am it,
or it is my Self?

No.

And does the same apply
to hearing and the other five senses?

[272] It does, sir.

And why? -

Because already,
we knew and saw,
clearly and aright,
that these six internal senses had no permanence.

Quite so, ladies, quite so.

This is the conclusion reached
by a disciple of the Noble,
who knows and sees clearly and aright.

Do you think forms are permanent
or impermanent?

Impermanent, sir.

Does the impermanent. ...

And why? -

Because already we knew and saw,
clearly and aright,
that these external objects of the six senses
had no permanence.

Quite so, ladies, quite so.

This is the conclusion reached
by a disciple of the Noble,
who knows and sees clearly and aright.

Do you think ocular perception is permanent
or impermanent?

Impermanent, sir.

Does the impermanent. ...

[273] And why? -

Because already we knew and saw,
clearly and aright,
that these six groups of perceptions
had no permanence.

Quite so, ladies, quite so.

This is the conclusion reached
by a disciple of the Noble,
who knows and sees clearly and aright.

It is just like a lighted lamp,
where oil,
wick,
shine
and sheen
are each and all impermanent
and subject to change.

Would it be correct to say
that, while oil, wick and shine
were impermanent and subject to change,
yet its sheen was permanently stable,
eternal and subject to no change?

No, sir. -

Because, if there was impermanence
in oil, wick and shine,
much more would the sheen be impermanent.

Just in the same way,
would anyone be correct
who affirmed that,
his six internal senses being impermanent,
and his feelings -
pleasant
painful
or neutral -
being felt through those six senses,
his feelings were [311] permanent and stable,
eternal and subject to no change?

No, sir. -

Because it is always from specific conditions
that specific feelings arise;
[274] and these specific feelings
disappear
with the disappearance of the specific conditions.

Quite so, ladies; quite so.

This is the conclusion reached
by a disciple of the Noble,
who knows and sees clearly and aright.

It is just like a fine upstanding timber-tree,
of which roots
trunk
branches
and shadow
are impermanent and subject to change.

Would anyone be correct
who affirmed that,
while root trunk and branches were all impermanent
and subject to change,
the tree's shadow was permanent,
stable,
eternal
and subject to no change?

No, sir. -

Because, if all else be impermanent,
much more would the shadow be impermanent.

Just in the same way,
would anyone be correct in affirming that,
the sense-objects of his six external senses being impermanent,
and his several feelings being felt through those sense-objects,
his feelings were permanent
and stable,
eternal
and subject to no change?

No, sir. -

Because it is always from specific conditions
that specific feelings arise;
and these disappear
with the disappearance of the specific conditions.

Quite so, ladies; quite so.

This is the conclusion reached
by a disciple of the Noble,
who knows and sees clearly and aright.

It is just like an expert butcher
or butcher's man
who, having killed a cow,
should with a sharp knife
dissect out the carcase,
so as not to spoil the flesh within
or the hide without,
by cutting out
severing
and dissevering
all the inward tendons
and sinews
and fastenings,
ana then should [275] clothe the cow in its hide once more
and declare that under the hide
she was connected together
just the same as before.

Would he be correct in so declaring?

No, sir, the cow would be disconnected beneath the hide.

[312] This illustration has been adduced
to make my meaning clear, -
which is this: -
the flesh within is another expression
for the six internal senses,
as the hide
is for the external objects of the six senses;
the tendons and sinews and fastenings within
represent passion's delight;
the sharp knife
means Noble understanding
which severs,
dissevers,
and cuts out
inner vices
and bonds
and ties.

There are seven factors of Enlightenment, ladies,
by the growth and increase of which within himself
an Almsman, by the destruction of the Cankers,
comes, here and now,
to dwell in the Deliverance of heart and mind
that knows no Cankers,
which, of and by himself,
he has discerned
realized
and developed.

What are these seven factors? -

1,2,3,4,5,6 and, um, Upekkha: Detachment.

p.p. explains it all — p.p.

Take the case of an Almsman
who cultivates the several factors -
each dependent on aloofness,
passionlessness,
and cessation,
each maturing by Renunciation -
of mindfulness,
study of the Doctrine,
zeal,
bliss,
tranquillity
and rapt concentration.

These are the seven factors of Enlightenment. [276] His exhortation ended,
the reverend Nandaka told the ladies
it was now time for them to be going.

With grateful thanks for his discourse,
those Alms-women rose up and,
with salutations and with deep reverence,
departed to the Lord,
whom they saluted,
remaining standing respectfully to one side.

As they stood there,
the Lord told the Almswomen
it was time for them to be going.

So with salutations
and with deep reverence
they withdrew.

They had not been gone long
when the Lord addressed the Almsmen,
saying: -

Just as on the mid-month Sabbath
there is no doubt or perplexity
in the minds of the people
whether there is no moon or full-moon,
for there is then no moon at all, -
even so in the same way
those Almswomen are glad to have heard Nandaka's exposition
but their thought has not yet waxed to the full.

Turning then to Nandaka,
the Lord directed him
to repeat the same exposition over again
to those same Almswomen.

Obediently, the reverend Nandaka did so,
in the [313] selfsame words,
on the morrow.

[277] With grateful thanks once more for his discourse,
those Almswomen rose up and,
with salutations and deep reverence,
departed to the Lord,
whom they saluted,
remaining standing to one side.

As they stood there,
the Lord told them
it was time for them to be going.

So with salutations
and with deep reverence
they withdrew.

They had not been gone long when the Lord addressed the Almsmen,
saying: -

It is just like the Sabbath of the full-moon,
when there is no doubt or perplexity
in the minds of the people
whether there is no moon or full-moon,
for it is full-moon.

Just in the same way
those Almswomen are glad to have heard Nandaka's discourse
and now their thoughts have waxed to the full.

Of all those five hundred Almswomen
even the most backward is of the conversion,
immune from future states of suffering,
safe and sure,
destined to win entire Enlightenment.

Thus spoke the Lord.

Glad at heart,
those Almsmen rejoiced in what the Lord had said.


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